24 April 2024, 23:56
By Furniture News Feb 21, 2017

Bringing a personal touch to online retail

Solid wood furniture etailer The Wooden Furniture Store offers high-quality furniture at competitive prices, with secure online ordering, friendly delivery and exceptional customer service as standard. Victoria Noakes spoke to founder and director Clare Jackson to uncover the roots of the business ...

Having previously worked as a marketing director for one of the UK’s leading publishing companies, Clare Jackson was led to re-evaluate what she wanted and needed from work after the birth of her first child. Requiring a job that offered flexibility of working hours and time off when necessary, Clare came to the conclusion that working for herself would be the best option. The lightbulb moment came when Clare and her husband moved house and needed some new furniture. 

“We lost days visiting retailers trying to buy a TV cabinet and coffee table – nothing too fancy or gimmicky, just decent wood furniture at a good price. We thought the process could have been quicker and easier, so The Wooden Furniture Store was born out of our frustration by using our combined online, retail and marketing experience,” explains Clare.

The Wooden Furniture Store sells top quality fully-assembled wooden furniture at attractive prices, operating a drop ship model. Clare manages the day-to-day running of the business from home, dealing with everything from customer queries and liaising with suppliers to blog posts and social media campaigns. Clare’s huband Richard is responsible for building and managing the company’s website to ensure that customers get a quick and simple shopping experience.

“One area in particular which we feel we can differentiate ourselves is with our customer service. Furniture purchases are not cheap or throwaway and so we provide what our customers are looking for – expert advice, considerate, friendly delivery and exceptional customer service. This is an area that many online retailers appear to ignore or struggle with,” Clare states.

“We’re much more than a faceless internet company that doesn’t care about what it sells or if its customers are happy – we’re a group of passionate, real people that genuinely care about our products, service and customers.” 

The Wooden Furniture Store offers a wide range of furniture styles, from chic, contemporary grey painted to traditional mahogany, but its main focus is on providing a high level of quality. The furniture pieces are designed to be practical, usable and not too fussy, as it is intended to appeal to a wide audience. The retailer’s goal is to help its customers create a home to be proud of.

The company offers pieces for all areas of the home, including chidren’s furniture, with its most popular products recently being dining room sets, painted ranges, home office pieces and unique shoe cupboards.

“The founders of Instagram – Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger – have definitely influenced us. They really understood the connection between technology and inspiration, which is something we aim to reflect in our offering,” says Clare.

The etailer has recently completed a number of improvements to its online store as part of the next stage of its growth, concentrating particularly on serving the needs of the mobile user better. Upgraded and redesigned, the website now features heightened user experience, easy-to-navigate product pages and quick and easy purchasing functionality. 

The company is also shortly set to run new PR and marketing campaigns, as well as employing a dedicated social media and marketing manager. 

Clare cites the marked increase in the use of mobiles and tablets to make high value purchases as the reason behind this development. Today, over 60% of online searches for The Wooden Furniture Store begin on a mobile device, and around 50% of purchases result from at least one visit from the consumer using a mobile device. 

“The ways in which consumers search and purchase is constantly evolving. Because we’re smaller, we’re able to react quickly, take risks and try something new. We know a lot about our customers – because we make a point of speaking to them regularly – and also have a good understanding of their browsing habits. We’ve invested in a technical solution on the site to ensure we understand what they need and are able to meet those needs,” Clare states.

“We feel that – aside from some notable operators and the larger players – in general there are many areas in which the industry can serve the needs of the digitally-engaged consumer better. 

“Many manufacturers still appear slow in evolving their offering and product information to support online retailers, and many retailers still appear to be ignoring the fact that mobile device usage has now overtaken that of desktop – which requires a very different approach to engage those customers.”

Looking ahead, The Wooden Furniture Store has its sights set on continued growth whilst wanting to maintain the benefits that come with being a small business – being able to provide a personal service, focus on the customer and react quickly to challenges faced. Clare understands that balancing the company’s upwards trajectory against these goals will be a challenge, and that it will be a matter of finding a “happy medium”.

“In the short term, we want to expand our product ranges and offer our customers more choice. A longer-term ambition is to ultimately look to design and produce our own ranges, but we realise that is a significant departure from our current strategy, so perhaps that’s a few years away for us!” says Clare.

“We’d also like to stock more furniture ranges but it’s difficult to find wholesalers who really understand the needs of an online retailer – particularly around product visuals. 

“Like retailers that haven’t changed to support the online consumer, there are so many really great manufacturers that we’ve met that have good products but little appreciation of what an online retail partner needs from them. We welcome any internet-savvy manufacturers out there to get in touch!”

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